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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.57%
Average: 17.39%
Pretty Bad: 7.45%
Total Crap: 14.29%

9 reviews, 107 user ratings

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
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by Collin Souter

"Does this mean David Keith will reprise his role as Tennessee Buck?"
4 stars

It’s hard to review “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” without getting carried away with the nostalgia that inevitably attaches itself to such projects. Too many questions get raised: Do we like it because it brings us back to our youth? Or do we dislike it because it feels like a desperate attempt to go back to the well and cash in before it’s too late? Does the showmanship and naiveté of its time translate well with the more hardened cynics and instant backlashers of today? Will teenagers really care about a new Indiana Jones movie, or will it only cater to those of us who grew up with the franchise, can quote it endlessly and who can spot all 17,000 inside jokes lurking within this latest installment?

Who can say? You know where you fall into these categories. I myself am an Indiana Jones nostalgia geek. I still have a few artifacts from my childhood and I did walk into this film with an anticipation almost equal to that of a teenage girl in the ‘60s waiting for a new Beatles album. I can’t help it. I fell for it. I can be just as jaded and cynical as the next blogger, but Spielberg, Ford and Karen Allen lured me in without much of a struggle, in spite of the fact that it’s been 20 years since Ford donned the Fedora and cracked the bullwhip.

So, is Harrison Ford too old? It doesn’t appear so, although I wouldn’t exactly suggest using this film as a starting off point for another trilogy. He still wears it well, still has his edge and can still throw a damn good punch. He still owns Indiana Jones, grey hair and all and no one can take it away from him. Likewise, Karen Allen is still Marion, although a little inconsistent from the first film. Her tough-as-nails demeanor seems to have dissipated a little. Still, she proves that Marion helped make the first Indiana Jones outing the classic it has become (and still the best in the series). She never whined or just stepped aside. Always a part of the solution and never a part of the problem. The same holds true here.

But does the rest of the film remain respectful to its roots? For the most part, yes. Indy has aged 20 years and still works as a professor. The screenplay hints at him working for the government, but doesn’t elaborate much. The film opens with a typically non-sequetor action sequence that doubles as an intro to our central villains, particularly the uniformed, Russian moll Irina Spalko (a sexy, sinister Cate Blanchette). Joining Indy is ‘Mac’ George McHale (Ray Winstone), an agent whose primary allegiance remains in question. In true nostalgic form, the movie opens in a warehouse where (you guessed it) thousands and thousands of crates have been stored. Somewhere in here lies… Never mind.

The bigger story kicks in later as teenager Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf, and no I did not mis-spell his character’s name) tracks Indy down and informs him of a missing colleague of his, Professor Oxley (John Hurt), who went missing while searching for the mysterious Crystal Skull (and the less I say about that part of the story the better). Why is Mutt telling this to Indy? Because his mother told him to. Indy is obviously the most resourceful person Mutt’s mother can think of to help in this predicament. Have you guessed who Mutt’s mother is yet? You got it. Marion…Williams.

All of this leads to Indy, Mutt, Marion, Oxley and sometimes Mac on a series of cliffhangers, car chases and booby traps, all while laws of physics get broken more than the properties on which these action scenes take place. We get taken deep into dark graveyards, gigantic waterfalls and even into a nuclear testing facility, where the movie seems to have the most fun. Of course, as with the first three films, there has to be a creepy-crawly element to the action at some point. Raiders had snakes. Temple of Doom had bugs. Last Crusade had rats. Crystal Skull has… what, you think I’m going to spoil it for you?

Although, there doesn’t seem to be much time for Indy and Marion to rekindle the chemistry they had in the first film, it’s still a worthwhile homecoming. When watching the first three films, it becomes evident that the women in the Indiana Jones movies carry just as much importance as Indy himself. In this day and age when youthfulness seems to trump everything else, Spielberg and company deserve credit for bringing back the only woman in the series who was Indy’s equal (and at times, his superior). When Marion asks Indy why he never settled down with any of the other women, the audience knows the answer before he even says it: “They weren’t you, babe.”

While the movie delivers ten-fold on the action, nostalgia and humor fronts, it’s not without its problems. A couple sequences seem to fizzle out before they have a chance to really get going. A scene in a graveyard involving poisonous darts could have gone on longer. The cutesy CGI critters at the film’s opening gave me the impression that George Lucas stepped in to direct while Spielberg wasn’t looking. But the film’s main problem comes in the third act. I will not give anything away. In theory, though, this idea of the Crystal Skull’s origin could work well within the film’s chosen time period (late ‘50s), but once visualized on the screen and in such grand fashion, it becomes the biggest canker sore the series has had since the casting of Kate Capshaw. It simply does not work, nor does the film’s coda, which feels a little forced and unnecessary.

Most of the rest of the film, however, works quite well. Spielberg proves he’s still got it and that nobody (save for Peter Jackson) can do it quite as well. The rhythm of the movie feels right, the youthful element works and I did find myself ducking during what is so far the action sequence of the year (it involves cars, swords and vines). It’s especially refreshing to see some of these sequences played out on actual sets instead of CGI renderings. With Spielberg’s cinematographer Janusz Kaminski taking the reigns for the first time in the series, the film definitely looks different from the rest, especially in the film’s opening where Kaminski makes some of the most unusual lighting choices in recent memory. Still, it’s clear that Spielberg has as much invested in this as a director as we do as viewers and fans who don’t want to see our heroes’ journeys spoiled. Nobody wants that.

For some, though, this journey has been spoiled, judging from a few of the early reviews I’ve read. Film critics often hear from defensive filmgoers that “hey, it doesn’t have to be Citizen Kane. It’s just supposed to be fun.” Now, I find myself saying that. I understand that argument for big budget action films such as these and I’ll be the first to admit I’m being pretty forgiving of this film out of pure love and bias. I try to go into an Indy-wannabe (such as National Treasure 1 & 2) with the same mindset, but more often than not, they end up being joyless, plastic and condescending. When Spielberg makes an Indiana Jones movie, you can tell he loves it. I guess I do, too. For the most part, anyway.

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originally posted: 05/21/08 12:40:53
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User Comments

1/29/19 brian Better than I was expecting, but not up to I & III. 4 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell a good entry in the series forget the haters 4 stars
9/04/16 TonyK Very good. Absurd, OTT, swashbuckling fun with some great camera work and homages. 4 stars
3/30/16 Aj wales Should have stuck to 3. Ford is just to old to take serious. He should put his feet up. 3 stars
3/14/16 Charles Tatum Yikes, this should have been MUCH better. 3 stars
3/25/15 Joey B A great homage to 50's Sci-fi and Cold War B - movies, with stunning visuals. 5 stars
11/10/14 Lisa C Not as good as Raiders or Crusade but much better than the Temple of Crap. 4 stars
12/11/12 Lisa A great movie, so incredibly underrated. 5 stars
9/05/12 Samuel This film basically sucked bad. 1 stars
11/28/11 The Big D More about Indy and his family than any kind of adventure; the series is winding down. 3 stars
5/02/11 Silkworm Indiana Jones and the crock of shit ! 1 stars
2/16/11 Reality Of Films Hey, come on! It's still fun! 5 stars
12/11/10 R.W. Welch Effort to recapture the old magic doesn't quite work but has some moments. C+ 3 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King This film was not worth the wait. 1 stars
3/05/10 Ionicera after 20 years this is the best they could do? 2 stars
1/30/10 Jack The best in the series! 5 stars
1/08/10 Reality Of Films This film is good, and full of action and humor. Don't listen to anyone who says it's bad. 5 stars
7/24/09 alice Really ridiculous and unrealistic, but entertaining nonetheless. 3 stars
5/14/09 Colin M So unfortunate that they ruined a franchise in the effort to make a (lot of) buck(s). 1 stars
3/30/09 Adventure author It's wonderful to see Indy again, win loose or draw. 3 stars
3/16/09 Sam unrealistic.. not that entertaining .. 2 stars
2/28/09 Piz The Mummy starring Harrison Ford instead of Brendan Fraser 2 stars
1/17/09 Aesop Working title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of WTF?!? 1 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. this isn't going to be as easy as it use to be! :P 4 stars
12/30/08 Justin Makes you wish Indy had drank out of the wrong cup at the end of the Last Crusade. 1 stars
12/26/08 Grace Boring. I swear they recycled most of the dialogue from the older Indiana Jones films. 3 stars
12/20/08 orpy sucks!!! 1 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
11/30/08 Johnnyfaye B movie extravaganza 4 stars
11/10/08 blah blah leave your brain at the door and you will have a good time 4 stars
11/03/08 your worst goddamn nightmare Y'know, it was good; a bit rusty, after all these years, but it was entertaining! 4 stars
10/31/08 Moop Has it's moments and interesting quasi-historical aspects, but felt too clunky 3 stars
10/19/08 Johnnyfaye Hahaha I love it...welcome back Jones! 5 stars
10/18/08 AshleyRockO Great, Fun movie. Indy still has it after all these years. 5 stars
10/16/08 The Anti-Douche In this order: 1, 4, 2 and 3. Last Crusade was lacklustre. 4 stars
10/11/08 Unicorn on the cob Could've done without return of (un-)Karen Allen, and ending is just too over the top. 3 stars
9/17/08 Oiman Not quite as good as Raiders, but I actually thought the aliens were cool! 4 stars
8/29/08 Keithers It's a good movie, people are bashing it cause they want they child hood mvie... 4 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman Pure Kentucky Fried Crap. I wept! 1 stars
7/30/08 the dork knight Doesn't even seem like an Indy movie.... 3 stars
7/23/08 David I expected better from Indy. 3 stars
7/19/08 Susan Lee was expecting much better from spielberg and the cast.. the aliens were cheesy, predictable 3 stars
7/16/08 zenny embarassing for all involved. greatly disappointing. 1 stars
7/14/08 Karen Loved this movie! 5 stars
7/10/08 Bill OReely very entertaining fantasy 4 stars
7/05/08 Samantha Pruitt entertaining, yet REALLY far-fetched, doesn't really fit in wth the other IJ movies. 4 stars
6/24/08 Indrid Cold The worst of the series, but still great. Make another one before Ford gets too old! 4 stars
6/23/08 mr.mike I just wasn't that into it. 3 stars
6/22/08 AnnieG Not as bad as I feared, not as good as I hoped. Rates 3rd in the series. 3 stars
6/17/08 Kirk You are a serious tard. 1 stars
6/14/08 Johnnyfaye People say it's flawed but...Raiders was totally flawed...the bad stuff are what make indy. 4 stars
6/11/08 TommyV Flawed, at times ridiculous- but still totally indiana jones 4 stars
6/10/08 Indy fanatic If you don't like this....than you forgotten why you liked indy so many years ago. 4 stars
6/07/08 Ry expecting little... got even less. 1 stars
6/06/08 Ming K I want more....Great actions the reunion with karen allen.... 5 stars
6/05/08 Jayson Bored down to my crystal skull. 2 stars
6/05/08 katmagick This flick was way overdue! Keep 'em coming. 5 stars
6/04/08 Dana The best Indiana Jones I have seen 5 stars
6/01/08 Quigley A worthy predecessor to one of cinema's greatest franchises 5 stars
5/31/08 gerry It was truly great. Not as good as Raiders, but fits nicely alongside the other two. 5 stars
5/30/08 Illusion Loved it. If you didn't, u must be old (LOL) 5 stars
5/30/08 BrizzyMo WELL worth the wait-any1 that disagrees misses the entire point of the franchise. Die. 5 stars
5/30/08 Indy fanatic If you didn't like it you probably over hyped yourselves. Indy is a B movie series remember 4 stars
5/29/08 luke Fukk all the one stars 5 stars
5/28/08 d halberg frickin aliens!!!!! 2 stars
5/28/08 David Horrible movie... 1 stars
5/28/08 NoRefill Not a bad movie, but not an Indian Jones movie. 3 stars
5/28/08 KingNeutron Too many unbelievable sequences - Shia is NOT the way to carry on the franchise 3 stars
5/28/08 Rick One of the worst movies in a while. Indiana Jones meets E.T. on the set of the Ruins 1 stars
5/28/08 Doubler Could'nt wait for it to end, bring, dull, plain ol' crap! 1 stars
5/27/08 J Webster Good...not as good as Raiders but an enjoyable ride and better than The Mummy films.. 4 stars
5/27/08 g awesome 5 stars
5/27/08 I-K Too cartoonish in places, unoriginal ending... might've called it "The mummy returns again" 2 stars
5/27/08 johhnyfog George Lucas and his cute critters stike again!! 3 stars
5/27/08 C Vega good to see indy back...ending was crap tho (ET LOL)...worst of the lot but still good tho 4 stars
5/26/08 Tim Eimiller I had a total blast watching this movie. Loved every ridiculous minute of it. 5 stars
5/26/08 david horribe, if you like this, you must be drunk 1 stars
5/26/08 Will Not Bad. What the hell was up with the monkey sequence? 3 stars
5/26/08 Lord Jiggy Never hit its stride...just off in pacing, humor, and minimal coherence. Even Ford was off 3 stars
5/26/08 Darkstar Um... it was good. Not great. Better than 2, not as good as 1 & 3. 4 stars
5/26/08 AJ Muller Not better than Raiders, but nothing (not even the other 2) is. Great, asskicking fun. 5 stars
5/26/08 George Barksdale Good action, kid did good job, but hate movies with alien implications 4 stars
5/26/08 Koitus Ugh... On par with the 2nd one in the series. I'd recommend waiting to rent it, even. 2 stars
5/25/08 debdahlin Alot of action - but something was missing 4 stars
5/25/08 bob jones this is what lucas and spielberg compromised on? 3 stars
5/25/08 powerloader Utter rubbish. 1 stars
5/24/08 Jim Nowhere near as good as the original three movies. 2 stars
5/24/08 Jeb Springfield This movie was awful. This was like Jar Jar Binks and the Crystal Skull 2 stars
5/24/08 Nick Absolute CRAP 1 stars
5/24/08 Hank Enjoyed it immensely, it despite its flaws 4 stars
5/24/08 Aimee I don't think we saw the same movie. Lucas and Spielberg totally screwed up. 2 stars
5/24/08 lemosley01 I feel as just like I did after Matrix 3 or Episode 2 - abused 2 stars
5/24/08 Brian F What a great time it was seeing this movie. They don't look that old 5 stars
5/24/08 CC Classic status of originals aside, this film is at par with the others. 2nd best in series. 4 stars
5/24/08 JoeJoe Gonsalves - You're in serious denial, if you believe what you wrote here. The movie sucked 2 stars
5/24/08 jackson Indiana Jones... and aliens 1 stars
5/24/08 bullit16 Should have been called "Indiana Jones and the Phantom Mencace." 3 stars
5/24/08 Indy Fan Slower paced than the previous 3, I think Harrison overplayed his age. Still, I enjoyed it! 4 stars
5/23/08 Will Wanted to love it.......but it was just half ass trash 1 stars
5/23/08 Joel The tarzan scene...........what the f..... 1 stars
5/23/08 Eric's Soul Come back Eric, come back. The movie is complete and total crap. 1 stars
5/23/08 dieter It's Indy, with a few "wmah" moments 4 stars
5/23/08 Melindissa I love Indy and the girl, but these CG stunts sucked. spoilt illusion 4 stars
5/23/08 Jackk Silly story, forced acting, poor CGI effects. 1 stars
5/23/08 ahnold Horrible. And I can't say more than that. 1 stars
5/22/08 fhdh cool 5 stars
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  22-May-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Oct-2008


  DVD: 14-Oct-2008

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